By Alisha Siebers, Director, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center
The 2022 Tournament of Writers is just around the corner! The VCAC invites submissions of fiction and nonfiction (under 2,500 words) and poetry (under 2,000 words) from local writers of all ages. All participants will be published in our Small Town Anthology and some will even win cash prizes! Send in your submissions between March 1 and March 31.
The goal of the Tournament is to support and encourage local talent, so we turned to Vicksburg resident Leeanne Seaver, an author and professional writer, for some advice. For the past 10 years, Seaver has focused on book commissions full time. The subjects have ranged from biography to business, travel to medical.
I asked Leeanne how she developed her love of writing. “I can remember my mom reading poetry to us when we were little. I loved how words alone made it clear a cricket was talking in Vachel Lindsay’s “The Potatoes’ Dance,” she recalled. “For me, that was better than any magic trick. I was smitten. A few years ago, I found the first book I ever wrote – I was about four – still in my dad’s files. He was so encouraging.” When I asked why she enjoys writing, she said, “I love how Anaïs Nin put it: ‘I write to taste life twice.’”
Establishing a routine can help writers. Leeanne described her habits: “For me, mornings are the best time for creative pursuits. When I’m into it really deep or on a deadline, I’ve got Spotify set to ‘Gregorian Chants.’ Hanging on the wall above my desk for inspiration and luck are my grandfathers’ threshing wrench and blacksmith’s tongs (the tools of their trades) and a plaque with my favorite quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’”
If you don’t have an office, Seaver recommends writing in libraries: “I love to write surrounded by books in quiet libraries. Vicksburg District Library has a small room where I can shut the door and work without any visual or noise distractions, which I love. The Schoolcraft Library has a rare books room that I love for the same reason. But Upjohn Library at Kalamazoo College is my favorite. It has a large room with fireplaces at each end, oak tables, desk lamps and a huge bank of windows.”
What happens if you get the dreaded writer’s block? Leeanne advises, “Get up and move… run, walk, dance. Get your head in another place with a completely different energy for a while. Read good things others have written – books, an article from Smithsonian or The Atlantic. Just indulge in some really fine wordcraft; that works like a transfusion for me.”
For those who are aiming for the top prizes at the Tournament, consider Seaver’s observation that “the best writing is rewriting. Revisions and editing don’t make the adrenaline course through your veins, but the process separates the wheat from the chaff – both in the writing and among those who want to be serious writers.”
Leeanne is currently finishing a book about the Vicksburg Foundation that we’re looking forward to reading this spring! What are you writing? Consider submitting it to the Tournament of Writers by March 31. For more details about the Tournament, visit the VCAC website at vicksburgarts.com or email me at email@example.com.